When Michaela Mabrey and Brittney Sykes played together in October for the New Jersey Demons in an AAU tournament, there was no guarantee they would share time together again on a basketball court.
But, by performing at such a high level throughout this high-school season, the two earned the chance to reunite under some pretty lofty conditions.
Mabrey, a 5-11 guard from Manasquan, and Sykes, a 5-9 guard from University in Newark, were named to the McDonald’s All-American team on Thursday and will compete in the All-American game on March 28 in Chicago.
The two struck up a friendship a few years ago and remained in constant contact over that time. Now, they are equally excited at the prospect of sharing the backcourt for the East when it competes against the West in the 35th annual installment at the United Center.
“It means everything,’’ Mabrey, who is committed to Notre Dame, said of earning the nod with Sykes. “The two of us going together to show what New Jersey has to offer is really exciting. I’m so honored and blessed to have this chance. I love her athleticism and her competitive edge. We have a connection on the court.”
“Becacuse, I’ll be there with Michaela, it’s going to make it even more amazing,” said Sykes, who signed with Syracuse. “She is a great person. We are like best friends.”
Sykes is the second player from University to earn McDonald’s All-America, joining 2010 graduated Laurin Mincy, who is now a sophomore at Maryland and averaging 14.2 points per game for the 19-3 Terps.
“I played with Laurin and when she was named All-American, I remember thinking about what an accomplishment that was,” Sykes said. “I wanted to become an All-American. During the season, there were certain moments that coach (Felicia) Oliver said, were moments that make All-Americans. That kind of stuck with me.”
Mabrey, who was also chosen to play in the WBCA All-America game in Denver on March 21, will celebrate her 18th birthday at the McDonald’s game, a fitting present for the player with a wealth of basketball gifts. She is averaging 17.1 points per game for Manasqaun (20-0), No. 2 in the MSG Varsity New Jersey Top 15.
Sykes, who has exceptional hops, surpassed the 1,000-point mark on Jan. 23 and is scoring at a 22.2 clip this winter, But, she can do much more that produce points. Sykes is clearing 11.5 rebounds, handing out 3.3 assists and making 4.0 steals per contest for University (11-8).
Gregg Lerner covers girls basketball for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @gregglerner